Mar 20, 2014

New Roles of Industrial Operations Analysts

The General Service Administration (GSA) is making changes to a core element of its administration of Multiple Award Schedules (MAS) Contracts. Specifically, the responsibilities of Industrial Operations Analysts (IOA) have changed to a more administrative support role for GSA Schedule holders. In March of 2014, the IOAs will assume all non-contracting responsibilities regarding sales reporting and the Industrial Funding Fee (IFF) matters. As a result of the IOAs new roles, the frequency of Contractor Assistance Visits (CAV) will change. Traditionally, Contractors received two Contractor Assistance Visits (CAV) during a five-year period. In the near future, the frequency of the assessment will now depend on various contract factors, such as sales volume, sales adjustments, previous assessments, etc. GSA believes these changes will result in greater efficiency and effectiveness. In 2013, the Federal Acquisition Services (FAS) reviewed the Supplier Management Division’s contract administration functions. As a result, an internal realignment of resources is taking place in 2014.

GSA has for some time conducted compliance reviews and assessment of MAS Schedule contractors in order to provide greater efficiency, savings, and service to GSA Schedule holders. Among the compliance factors being reviewed are amount of GSA sales, issues with reporting GSA sales, out-of-scope contracting, compliance with the Trade Agreements Act and prompt payment discount, and/or basis of award. The change provides Schedule holders with one GSA contact who will visit contractors based on identified risk factors, assess contractor compliance with certain contract requirements, issue a report, and follow-up on sales adjustments and any matters related with IFF reporting. This means that the GSA Administrative Contracting Officers (ACOs) will no longer mange the sales reporting and remittance of the Industrial Funding Fee (IFF). The IOA assigned to your contract will assist vendors with all questions and transactions regarding sales and IFF. GSA will have an IOA locator, which will be posted in the near future on the Vendor Support Center website to help identify the IOA assigned to the contract. GSA has not provided any details on the various factors, such as the amount of sales that would trigger an IOA assessment. The format in which these assessments will be conducted will be in-person or virtual.

Speaking of virtual, GSA has stated that conducting tests of virtual visits in 2013 resulted in significant reduction in travel expenses for GSA and cost to taxpayers. GSA will continue to conduct virtual visits as long as the contractor possesses the necessary technological tools and competency for effective utilization of virtual tools, as well as have all required documentation available electronically to be shared either via e-mail or during a virtual meeting. Since most contractors have files already stored on hard drives, and with virtual meetings becoming more popular as well as cost effective, look for more virtual meetings to be held this year and in the future.

GSA is operating in a time of significant change, one that is being driven by the fiscal realities of government wide spending cuts. This is evident from GSA’s decision to not hold a GSA Training and Expo in 2014 and the realignment of resources to the IOA. Furthermore, GSA continues to roll out the Federal Strategic Sourcing Initiatives (FSSI), which GSA believes will project savings from the use of agency-wide and government-wide strategic sourcing initiatives. Check out Jennifer Aubel’s blog on how FSSI is having a negative impact on small businesses.

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